MAC, Mattel Poised To Launch Grownup Barbie Cosmetics

Estee Lauder's MAC Cosmetics brand has teamed with toy company Mattel, and the two are poised to launch a Barbie line of MAC cosmetics. Here's the kicker. The line is intended for adults, and comes with its own limited-edition MAC-themed Barbie doll.

The kitschy Barbie color cosmetics line is due on beauty counters and in MAC stores by mid-February in North America, and globally in March. The launch is not slated at this time to be a permanent fixture in the MAC collection--but rather a limited edition available for two to three months. The line is also doubling as MAC's spring color collection.

A MAC public relations rep was unable to say if the effort is a pilot test, or if there are plans for the Barbie line to reappear in other seasonal collections or even become an eventual permanent group of SKUs.

Until now, Barbie cosmetics and Barbie perfumes have all targeted young girls either for play or as an introduction to toiletries. MAC's effort, however, is the first bona fide Barbie line for adults--and one marketed within an adult, urban umbrella brand.



MAC has long been positioned as the makeup brand for every gender and every skin type and color. It's probably best-known for Viva Glam lipsticks--its best-selling lip color for which all of profits are funneled into AIDS--as well as periodic ads featuring unlikely celebrities such as flamboyant entertainer RuPaul and Elton John.

Unlike the more conservative neutrals common to brands such as Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier and even Clinique, the new MAC collection will largely consist of bright pinks and other Barbie-esque spring colors, like green.

The line consists of several shades of lipstick, glosses, eyeliners, shadows, blushes, nail polishes, and even mascara and makeup brushes--and of course, a black and pink makeup bag.

Prices range from $10 for the nail polish to $20 for the powder and $45 for the makeup brush. Beyond the bright colors, other Barbie features include the hot pink and black packaging bearing Barbie's silhouette, and a Barbie image debossed into the actual eyeshadows.

Mattel and MAC have also collaborated on a MAC Barbie, which will retail for $35 and be sold as a limited edition in MAC's freestanding stores, but not in department stores.

Traditional advertising is not in the works. However, a product microsite will promote the line in February, accessible through and Other marketing support will include certain MAC free-standing stores temporarily redecorated as Barbie bedrooms, and beauty reps dressed in Barbie-themed T-shirts.

While a Barbie cosmetics line for adults may seem childish, there has long been a large contingent of women in their 20s, 30s and 40s who continue to adore the doll they played with as children, and also actively collect Barbie dolls.

Mattel continues to roll out Barbie collectors' series dolls--with many variations that only adults could truly understand and appreciate. These cost much more than the standard dolls, often retailing for more than $100. They include Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra (and other characters), Diana Ross by Bob Mackie, Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's (and others), Barbie as That Girl (as in the 1960s sitcom starring Marlo Thomas), another series of Bob Mackie fashion Barbies (with dolls sporting glamorous dresses designed by Mackie, who is best known for dressing Cher and Carol Burnett)--and most recently, a Diane von Furstenburg Barbie that sports the designer's signature wrap-style dress.

Mattel is also planning a Hilary Duff Barbie for 'tweens, due on shelves shortly.

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